Katie Zaferes was crowned world champion today after winning the overall ITU World Triathlon Series title, capping a stellar season with a gold medal at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final. Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.) becomes the first U.S. elite triathlon world champion since Gwen Jorgensen won in 2014 and 2015.
The ITU World Triathlon Series (WTS) is a season-long battle for the world championship crown, and the leader at the end of the series is named world champion. The Grand Final is the last race of the series and is weighted more heavily than regular-season WTS races.
The world title is years in the making for 2016 U.S. Olympian Zaferes, who finished fifth in the ITU World Triathlon Series in 2015, fourth in 2016, third in 2017 and second in 2018. She won today despite suffering a broken nose and needing 23 stitches after a bike crash at the Tokyo ITU World Olympic Qualification Event on Aug. 15.
“The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 was both amazing and nerve-wracking beforehand, because I set myself up so well to get this and I really just didn’t want to mess it up,” Zaferes said. “To have my parents and [husband] here … There are so many people who were a part of this and who make it special.”
Zaferes won four of the eight WTS races this season and earned silver in a fifth. She shares the overall series podium with Great Britain’s Jessica Learmonth (silver) and Georgia Taylor-Brown (bronze), who finished in that same order in the Grand Final race.
Today, Zaferes was eighth out of the 1,500m swim, joining a lead pack of five for the hilly 40k bike. On the 10k run, Zaferes, Learmonth and Taylor-Brown ran shoulder-to-shoulder for nearly the entire course. Zaferes outsprinted Learmonth in the finish chute, crossing the line in 2 hours, 2 minutes, 45 seconds to Learmonth’s 2:02:49. Taylor-Brown was third in 2:03:03.
Zaferes leads a strong U.S. women’s contingent heading into the 2020 Olympic year. Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.) was just off the Series podium in fourth place. Summer Rappaport (Thornton, Colo.), who auto-qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team at the Tokyo Qualification Event, finishes the series in fifth.
SOURCE USA Triathlon